MOVIE: Donner Pass (2012)

This little horror flick, which was recently recommended to me by a woman who worked with the script editor, doesn’t offer up much in the way of logic when it comes to its interpretation of what really happened to the Donner Party, but still ended up being surprisingly entertaining.

Essentially, the premise is that, way back in 1846, George Donner led his party of pioneers west into Sierra Nevada on purpose — to eat them.  He’d somehow already tasted human flesh (no explanation of where or when, but whatever), and, as we all know, once you get the taste for humans, no mere cow will do.  So, in other words, the Donner party didn’t get lost and trapped and die off slowly and then eat each other to survive — instead, Donner lured them up there, killed them one by one, and ate them to feed his “hunger.”  Think Ravenous, only with teenagers instead of Guy Pearce and the principal from Ferris Bueller.

Teenagers?  I’m getting ahead of myself.  Flash forward to modern times, and now the area around the infamous Donner Pass is a popular ski town,  full of locals who believe in this legend — and claim Donner still haunts the woods, looking for victims.

A gaggle of teenagers are heading into the area to spend the weekend at one of their party’s parents’ cabin when a big storm hits.  Just as they arrive, they’re told by one local that there’s a manhunt going on — a woman was found murdered, her body viciously torn apart, and the police have a suspect they believe he’s still in the area.

Well, you can predict, I’m sure, where this is headed.  And it goes there, and it’s no big surprise (first to die: the boozer; second: the fornicator; and so on — we’re not in for anything terribly original here).  Nevertheless, I was impressed by the quality of the filmmaking — it’s shot well for a low-budget movie and acted reasonably well too (with one unfortunate exception — SPOILER FOR FOOLS:  the person who ends up being responsible for what’s going on is so badly overacting from the opening scene on through that only a fool (see?) wouldn’t be able to figure out he was somehow involved in the first five minutes).  Plus, the story, while totally ridiculous at times, still managed to be energetic and fun.

All in all, not a bad flick to rent on a snow day.  The ambience sure was right for it.  I’m stuck at home for the second day in a row because of a huge snow and ice storm here in Seattle, and I tell you, if I run out of groceries any time soon, the husband will be the first to go.  Well, okay, maybe the cat first, the husband second.  And then I’ll have the HUNGER, so look out!

Definitely worth the three bucks  it costs to rent it from Amazon (it’s also available at Red Box, the movie’s website says) — check it out if you dig these kinds of things.  I had a surprisingly good time.

[Prequeue at Netflix | Buy/Rent at Amazon]

Genre: Horror
Cast:  Desiree Hall, Erik Stocklin, Colley Bailey, Adelaide Kane, John Kassir, Eric Pierpoint

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4 Responses to “MOVIE: Donner Pass (2012)”

  1. Catherine Says:

    Glad you enjoyed it! Perfect to watch when you’re actually snowed in. It was shot on film -16mm – by a talented cinematographer, so it did look very good. If you get the dvd from Redbox, there are a couple of “making of” featurettes that are interesting. Just to clarify for other readers, I was the script supervisor, so I took notes on set for the editor and tracked continuity. It was extremely cold shooting in the snow, so I’m glad to know there is some enjoyment to be had from the result!

  2. Liz Says:

    Oh dear – Eric Pierpoint was in this? He played “George” – the lead in “Alien Nation.” Does this mean he’s “sunk so low,” or is it okay, since the movie was entertaining? BTW, did you watch “Alien Nation?” I was quite taken with it, and was very cross when it was cancelled after only 1 season. Pierpoint used to be a very handsome man, although you couldn’t tell, when he was in alien make-up.

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